•FAAN expects traffic upsurge at Nigerian airports
By Chinedu Eze
A four-man team from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has arrived Nigeria to commence the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) of the nation’s aviation industry.
The objective of the audit is to ensure that Nigeria still abides by the safety status in accordance to ICAO regulations.
Nigeria had passed the audit in the past and would regularly be re-examined to ensure that the country does not stray from the accepted international safety standard under which it is rated.
According to the spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, during the audit the following areas would be the focal points for the auditors. These include Legislation (LEG),Organisation (ORG), Accident and Incident Investigation (AIG), Air Navigational Services (ANS) and Aerodrome and Ground Aids (AGA).
Adurogboye said the auditors would be working with the their Nigerian counterparts and would visit NCAA’s regional offices and all the relevant service providers in the aviation industry.
The team would work in separate groups based on specific assignments and at the conclusion of the audit, there would be a closing meeting where the draft audit result would be presented.
The audit would end on March 25, 2016.
Since last year the aviation agencies including NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) have been preparing for the audit.
Last week the officials of the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assessed the safety status of the Murtala Muhamemed International Airport, Lagos and commended the security apparatus, saying the security system was in line with the recommedations of ICAO.
TSA made this known after concluding its security assessment and “expressed deep satisfaction at the level of compliance with ICAO standard and recommended practices in the airport.”
The team also said it was highly impressed with the corrective action plans put in place by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in respect of the few open items that were to be closed.
Reacting to the ICAO audit that would begin today, the Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, said the authority was ready for the assessment.
Before the arrival of the audit team, Dunoma had inspected facilities the agency had been working on to ensure they meet the ICAO standard, which had earlier indicated the gaps which the agency had to close.
ICAO had with the support of NCAA, established an inter-agency committee which worked to meet the given safety recommendation at the airports, in documentations and in airspace management.
FAAN concentrated on upgrading the runways, the taxiways, the installation of airfield lighting and the marking on the ramp and other areas to assist pilots in take off and landing of their flights.
Meanwhile, FAAN said due to expansion of airport facilities and increasing number of international and local carriers, a significant upsurge in passenger, cargo and aircraft traffic would be expected at Nigeria’s airports by the last quarter of 2016 when most of the airport terminals and other related projects would have been completed and commissioned.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the organisation, Yakubu Dati, said with improvements in terminal and airside facilities at these airports, a number of local airlines in the country hadalready started expanding their route network, some extending to the West Coast of Africa, while international carriers are increasing their frequencies to the country despite seemingly gloomy economy.
said some foreign airlines with hitherto had Lagos as their only destination have also started showing interest in operating into Mallam Aminu Kano and Port Harcourt International Airports, citing example with Qatar Airways, which intends to expand service to other international airports following the recent signing of new Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and Qatar.
“Significant increase in passenger, aircraft and cargo traffic at Nigerian airports, especially those managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, became noticeable towards the end of last year. In September, the figure for international passenger movements in all the airports was 316, 680. The figure grew steadily to 318, 503 in October, 328,652 in November and 336,652 in December, 2015,” Dati explained.
During the same period in 2015, cargo movements grew steadily from 13,504,252 in September, 15,435,842 in October, 16,102,686 and 16,267,208 in December.
He noted that other factors likely to influence the growth of passenger and cargo traffic this year include the completion of cargo terminals at designated airports across the country.